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Port a' Chaisteil, dun 505m SSW of Tangy Lodge

A Scheduled Monument in South Kintyre, Argyll and Bute

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Coordinates

Latitude: 55.4838 / 55°29'1"N

Longitude: -5.7131 / 5°42'46"W

OS Eastings: 165497

OS Northings: 627377

OS Grid: NR654273

Mapcode National: GBR DG86.XK7

Mapcode Global: WH0LX.6FRD

Entry Name: Port a' Chaisteil, dun 505m SSW of Tangy Lodge

Scheduled Date: 6 July 1973

Last Amended: 15 March 2013

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Source ID: SM3273

Schedule Class: Cultural

Category: Prehistoric domestic and defensive: dun

Location: Killean and Kilchenzie

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: South Kintyre

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Description

The monument comprises a prehistoric dun, a defended settlement likely to date to the Iron Age (between 500 BC and AD 500). It survives as a low, turf-covered sub-rectangular enclosure, measuring approximately 14m by 9m. The interior is occupied by the remains of a secondary, rectangular building of unknown date and function. The dun occupies the summit of a large, isolated and inaccessible knoll on the foreshore of the W coast of Kintyre. The rocky knoll is 10m above sea level and is surrounded by water at high tide. The monument was first scheduled in 1973, but the documentation does not meet modern standards: the present rescheduling rectifies this.

The area to be scheduled is irregular on plan, defined by the base of the rock outcrop on which the monument is sited. The scheduled area includes the remains described above, an area around them within which evidence relating to the monument's construction, use and abandonment may survive, and adjoining land essential for the monument's support and preservation, as shown in red on the accompanying map.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Statement of Scheduling

Cultural Significance

The monument's cultural significance can be expressed as follows:

Intrinsic characteristics

The dun occupies the summit of a rock outcrop with near-vertical sides, which provides strong natural protection. Today the summit is almost inaccessible, but rock has fallen away on the E side, which may have been the position of the original entrance. The enclosure wall follows the irregular outline of the summit area. A single course of the outer face survives in stretches, but the inner face is not visible. The interior of the dun has been obscured by the superimposition of a later rectangular building, which measures 11.5m by 6m over walls 0.9 to 1.5m wide and has an entrance in the S side. This later building may have sealed earlier structures and features contemporary with the building and use of the dun.

Overall, the footprint of the monument is intact and it survives in reasonably good condition, despite the apparent rock fall that has taken place. There is potential for the survival of buried deposits and features beneath and beyond the enclosure wall and within the dun interior. Future examination of the dun could provide detailed information about its date, form and construction, and investigation of the interior could contribute to our understanding of how it was used and how this may have changed over time. Buried artefacts and palaeoenvironmental evidence can contribute to our understanding of how people lived and worked, the extent and nature of trade and exchange, and the nature of the agricultural economy. The monument has the potential to contribute to our understanding of the nature of Iron Age settlement and the design and development of these defended enclosures.

Contextual characteristics

This type of defended settlement characterises much of the coastal occupation of Argyll and Atlantic Scotland in later prehistory. They belong to a much broader category of later prehistoric settlement, which includes brochs, forts, crannogs, duns and hut circles. Altogether, over 500 later prehistoric settlements are known in Argyll. It is believed that duns represent the remains of living spaces of small groups or single families. They are largely a coastal phenomenon and tend to be located on locally high ground, along prominent coastal routes or within easy reach of the coast, as in this case.

This example is interesting because of its position on the W Kintyre shore, at the N end of Machrihanish Bay. It favours a seaward outlook and would have been clearly visible from the sea, which, combined with its prominent knoll-top position, suggests that defence and visibility were chief among the factors for the selection of this location. It may have formed part of a network of broadly contemporary, similar sites along this coastline, some of which would have been inter-visible: for example, there is another dun at Port nam Marbh only 200m to the S, and a fort some 600m to the S. This monument has high potential to contribute to our understanding of the Iron Age occupation of Kintyre and further afield.

Associative characteristics

The site was recognised and labelled as a 'Fort' on the first edition Ordnance Survey map.

National Importance

This monument is of national importance because it has an inherent potential to make a significant addition to our understanding of the past, in particular, the design and construction of later prehistoric, small defended settlements in western Scotland and their place in the wider economy and society. There is good potential for well-preserved archaeological remains surviving within the dun. These buried remains can tell us much about the people who built and lived in the settlement and the connections they had with other groups. The loss of the monument would significantly diminish our future ability to appreciate and understand the occupation of Argyll in the later prehistoric and early historic periods.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

Sources

Bibliography

RCAHMS records the site as NR62NE 1. West of Scotland Archaeology Service records the site as WOSASPIN 2957.

References

RCAHMS 1971, The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. Argyll: an inventory of the ancient monuments: volume 1: Kintyre, p 92, no 229. Edinburgh.

Source: Historic Environment Scotland

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